Korg Prophecy

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Korg prophecy.jpg
Technical specifications
Synthesis typePhysical modeling
Storage memory2 × 64 locations, 512k RAM card
Effects1 × 5
Keyboard37-key Aftertouch + Velocity[2]
Left-hand controlPitch, Modulation, Log Wheel, Ribbon
External controlMIDI (In, Out, Thru)

The Korg Prophecy is considered one of the earliest (mid-nineties) virtual analog (a.k.a. VA) synthesizers, although its synthesis capabilities went beyond many of its VA contemporaries.


Along with the Korg Z1, the Korg Prophecy is a direct ancestor of the ill-fated OASYS project.[3] It was a small three-octave monosynth, a pioneer of the late 1990s return-to-analog trend. Offering assignable knobs, a "log controller" (a combination of a modulation wheel and ribbon controller assembled like a sausage) and many other control sources, it invited players to tweak and shape the sound both easily and quickly. However, deep editing wasn't as straightforward, because the sound engine contained 13 DSP-modeled oscillator types, each one offering a large number of parameters to adjust. Some of the most used DSP models were the analog model (based on the classic osc+filter+amp scheme, although with many powerful enhancements), the VPM model (a form of FM synthesis which avoided Yamaha's FM patent) and the physical modeling algorithms. The latter deserves special mention. In the mid to late 1990s, it was believed that physical modeling, which recreated the sound of acoustic instruments (brass, strings, woodwinds, etc.) using DSP algorithms instead of samples, would eventually replace sample-based synthesis of those instruments, because of its unprecedented realism and expressiveness[citation needed]. As time passed, physical modeling seemed to lose its appeal to both manufacturers (because of the cost of investigation and implementation) and final users, who complained about the realism of the models and limited polyphony[citation needed]. Also, more complex playing techniques were required to play the models in a convincing way. Nevertheless, the Prophecy's low cost and broad implementation of sound generation techniques earned it a significant place in synthesizer history.

Technically, the Prophecy offered one-note monophony, several effects (including distortion, wave shaping, delay/reverb and chorus/flanger), and 128 memory locations for user sound programs. No sequencer was included, but its integrated arpeggiator was a source of instant gratification, as some magazines put it. A PCMCIA slot allowed for offline storage of patches and banks. Standard MIDI sockets, a special socket for connecting an EC5 pedal bank, a sustain pedal socket, and a pair of audio outputs occupied the rear panel.

Korg made a major breakthrough at the time, offering a low cost expansion card for Trinity users, which incorporated the whole sound engine of the Prophecy into the already powerful workstation. Gone was the arpeggiator and some minor features, but the editing was much improved through the Trinity's big touchscreen, and the workstation's effects processing was a huge improvement over the Prophecy's basic set.

A direct descendant of the Prophecy is the Korg Z1 (1997) which is the equivalent of a 12-note polyphonic Prophecy with enhanced models, more physical control, 61-note keyboard, bigger screen, 6-part multitimbrality, more presets and two powerful programmable twin arpeggiators.


Notable users[edit]


  1. ^ "Korg Prophecy". Sound On Sound. May 1995. Archived from the original on 6 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Korg Prophecy". Sound On Sound. October 1995. Archived from the original on 9 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Korg Z1". Sound on Sound. October 1997. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Korg PHC11 & PHC12 Prophecy". Sound On Sound. August 1996. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Apollo Four Forty: Ad Astra". Sound On Sound. November 1999. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Autechre: Techno-logical". Sound On Sound. November 1997. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Eat Static: Chart Success". Sound On Sound. January 1997. Archived from the original on 6 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Paul Gomersall: Recording George Michael's "Older"". Sound On Sound. July 1996. Archived from the original on 9 June 2015.
  9. ^ "James Asher: Down To Earth". Sound On Sound. August 1997. Archived from the original on 9 June 2015.
  10. ^ Jarre, Jean-Michel (1997). Oxygène 7–13 (Media notes).
  11. ^ "Jonny's Korg Prophecy & 'Lift'". The King of Gear.
  12. ^ "Landmark Productions: The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land". MusicTech. 18 May 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  13. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX0MN_RXgKY/. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)/|title=A Studio Tour with The Crystal Method ! (Part 1)

Further reading[edit]

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